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shower upgrades(ARA) - Each day, millions of us choose showering as our bathing ritual, and Americans have been using the same basic shower since the 19th century. After all this time and trillions of hours showering, the residential market has finally turned its attention to the luxury shower.

Oh sure, we once thought soap on rope and a water massage showerhead was upgrading our builder-specified bathroom, but no longer! Homeowners are about to be tempted by dozens of new products to upgrade their everyday showering routine.

Over 53 percent of us start our mornings with a shower at 101 degrees Fahrenheit, so it's no wonder the hottest trend in bathroom design for the next year will be how to build the most luxurious stand-up spa -- otherwise known as your former common shower.

Here are nine dos and don'ts to update your shower and not soak your budget:

Do add a window above or over your shower.

Don't add a window within the shower stall itself.

Framed windows are sources of water seepage, and that can promote mold and rot. Water can decompose materials faster than demolition, so keep framed windows above the water line! Adding natural light will upgrade any shower stall in an instant. Check out skylights for vaulted bathrooms on those 70s remodels.

Do add a light fixture and/or heat lamp in your shower.

Don't shower in the dark.

Tiled showers can be cold and dark once that curtain is drawn so warm up the space with a combination light fixture/heat lamp. A lot of showers already have a light fixture, so this can be an easy change out.

Do add new showerheads.

Don't shower under a drizzle or drip.

The Jado Rainhead is a great option for a luxurious drenching. These oversized heads give water the extra circumference to drop down like summer rain. This retro design works from the wall or ceiling of a shower stall.

Do add body bar sprays to your standard shower.

Don't worry about retiling.

A great invention by American Standard -- the VertiSpa -- offers easy installation by attaching to your showerhead and screwing into your existing shower wall. This compact and affordable unit includes both a vertical shower tower and an overhead adjustable showerhead. The tower has five body spray jets, two with a concentrated flow and three spiral jets with a pulsating flow to ensure a massaging effect. It also travels on a slide bar so that you can adjust it to the perfect height for each bather.

Do install glass shower doors with towel bar handles.

Don't use moldy shower curtains.

Shower curtains by their very nature have folds and liners that trap moisture. In no time flat plastic liners and curtains become Petri dishes for mold growth. Install permanent doors that slide or hinge made out of textured or clear glass for extra light. Many of these shower doors come with horizontal handles for extra hanging space for towels.

Do clean grout.

Don't let water seep into your walls.

There are grout cleaners that remove the molds and mildew that will ultimately eat away grout compounds. Keeping your tiled shower clean is the best way to deter grout breakdown. Once grout is damaged, repair immediately so that mold and mildew will not start growing behind tile or acrylic surrounds. Clean grout can give an old shower a new-tile appearance.

Do retile shower floors.

Don't stand on broken tile.

One of the fastest ways to update a tired shower is to add a complementary rock or stone on the floor of your shower. These joints near the base of your shower also happen to be the first to age. Look closely at the corners and seams to see if your grout is holding. A fresh floor can clean up an aging décor. Store salvaged tiles for future repairs.

Do pour your shampoo and conditioners into easy-to-dispense plastic bottles.

Don't create a pile of slippery quarter-filled hair product containers.

Bottles sitting on the shower pan also encourage mold growth by trapping water underneath the containers. Look for large plastic containers with hand pumps to dispense your hair products. These unmarked matching bottles can be mounted to a wall or stacked side-by-side on a shelf for easy shampooing. An organized shower feels cleaner.

Do add a teak bench or shelf.

Don't try to balance on one foot in the shower!

Teak is a great wood that can withstand daily moisture. These benches or shelves can be placed near you for your bath products, washcloths or towels. Teak furnishings can be found where they sell outdoor furniture in all shapes and sizes.

For more information about American Standard's VertiSpa, log on to

Courtesy of ARA Content

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